I hope you are enjoying these summer days.
For many, summer is a time when school is out and work slows down a little; opportunities open up for recreation, relaxation, vacation.
This is so important because the pace of daily life in America has become one of nonstop activity. More people’s days are spent working longer hours, even nights and weekends.
Our technology, which is meant to be “labor-saving,” seems to encourage only more labor, breaking down the once-clear lines between work and home. With smartphones, many of us now carry our “offices” around in our pockets, so we are always “on call,” checking emails, sending text messages.
Even personal entertainment these days often takes the form of a restless scrolling from screen to screen, people always on the lookout for something new to share or react to.
I was reading recently about how families are realizing that their childrens’ lives are now so tightly scheduled — constantly running between lessons, sports, and all sorts of “enrichment” activities — that kids are more stressed and no longer know how to be alone or what to do with “downtime.”
We all need to take a pause.
I have long been concerned that our lives are getting so crowded, so “noisy” with distractions, that we are losing our desire and even our ability for recollection and contemplation, for just being still and silent in the presence of God.
I have been reflecting a lot on this, and I will share more in the weeks and months to come. Here I want to suggest simply that it is time for us to rediscover a “Sabbath mindset.”
Most people today probably do not remember there was once a day of rest built in to our hectic weeks. For most of American history, in fact, offices and shops were closed on Sundays, and only essential work was permitted.
That practice was rooted in the biblical command to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy, a practice still upheld by many Jews and Christians, but generally forgotten in our secular world.
The Sabbath reminds us that in God’s plan for creation, there is meant to be a natural rhythm of labor and leisure; a time to work and a time to rest; a time for conversation and activity; and a time for silence and prayer.
We are not created to give our lives to work. We are created to give our lives to God and to our loved ones and neighbors. A Sabbath mindset can help us to keep our balance and perspective.
In a workaholic culture, it is an act of spiritual resistance to unplug from screens and devices, to step back for a little while from the pressures to produce.
Keeping the Lord’s Day holy means saying no to the “lordship” of the consumer economy, to the logic that working more and having more makes us more — more secure, more fulfilled, happier. It does not.
The Sabbath is “a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money,” as the Catechism says.
As Catholics, Sunday should be the first day of the week for us, not the last day of a weekend.
The Scriptures tell us that on the first day of the week, the Lord rose from the dead. On that Sunday morning, life overcame death. And from that moment on, our human lives were given new possibilities — for holiness, for eternity, for sharing in the divine nature.
Easter comes now every Sunday and we have the same privilege as the first disciples — to eat and drink at the table with the risen Lord, to hear his word burning in our hearts and have our eyes opened to know him in the breaking of the bread.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
We have a duty to worship God — the command to serve God and the command to keep the Sabbath belong together. But more than an obligation, worshiping God on the Lord’s Day is a way to find ourselves again, to discover who we are made to be.
Coming to Jesus in the eucharistic celebration on Sunday, resting in him, we reclaim our true humanity, as creatures of body and soul, children of God whose lives, work, and relationships find their meaning in serving him.
The early Christian father, Origen, said that we should be “always in the Lord’s Day … always celebrating Sunday.”
Let us make that our intention, to live from Sunday to Sunday, living every day as the day the Lord made.
Pray for me this week, and I will pray for you. And may our Blessed Mother Mary go with us and help us to make every day the Lord’s Day.